Foreign Policy recently published an article by the outstanding journalist James Traub about Sweden’s state policy of admitting refugees. The title, The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth, is somewhat hyperbolic: Sweden isn’t dying, but it has reached its limit and the hearts of many have been hardened. Traub writes:
The Swedes responded because they could not accept that outcome. They had no special obligation to act; they did so because they believed it was right. … Then, as a consequence, they were inundated, forcing a step back from the moral precipice.
… Yet it need not have ended this way. If their neighbors [in the European Union] had pitched in, Sweden could have afforded the price of its remarkable generosity. At the Davos forum in January, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, said bluntly, “We are a continent of 500 million people; we could easily handle this task if we cooperated, if we met this as a union and not as individual member states.” But Europe did not cooperate.
…will back up at various European borders. New arrivals may be blocked in Turkey. It is … what the European Union itself now foresees as the best solution to the problem. Late last year, the EU agreed to pay Turkey $3.2 billion to expand care for refugees and stem their onward flow.
It is true that, except for a few isolated states such as Sweden and, of course, Germany, Europe — not to mention the United States — has retreated into xenophobia and, as a consequence, turned immigration from Afghanistan, Africa, and the Middle East into a much greater problem than it needed to be. But isn’t there a way, beyond the sanctions regime to which it is currently subjected, of dunning the Assad regime in Syria to recoup some of the costs of the refugee crisis, for which it played a very large part? At least, once the civil war has ended, pay reparations?
It won’t happen without Russia’s cooperation in the United Nations, of course. But Russia, which in 2015 allowed two (2) Syrian refugees into its country, blames Europe for the crisis. In September 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, reports the Telegraph, said:
… that Europe’s migration crisis was “completely predictable”, adding: “These are the policies of our American partners. Europe blindly follows within the framework of its so-called duties as an ally – and then must bear the burden.”
By which he presumably means that the United States and Europe support some of the rebels in Syria, thus forcing the Assad regime to wage war against them and his own civilians, driving many out of Syria.